On Saturday, Sept. 17, Starke County Economic Development Foundation (SCEDF) hosted their third annual Starke Tank Pitch Competition to expand Starke County. A total of 10 businesses competed for prize money to establish, grow, and expand Starke County.
“We are thrilled at the response by business owners and entrepreneurs to this year’s event,” SCEDF Executive Director Lisa Dan said.
Each business had 5 minutes to present their plans to the audience and the three judges in attendance. Each business showed their hard work, thorough plans and thoughts, and the impact their plans could have on the community. The impression of community and vigorous diligence were felt by all.
“It’s interesting to find out about the new businesses in Starke County. It’s great to see everybody come together with such a small community and everyone supporting each other and spreading the word from one business to another.” Daisy Valdez and Cheryl Smith from The Point Drive In said.
The first pitch competition was held in 2020 and had limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first year Starke Tank has been a countywide event and the audience in fact demonstrated what a great decision that was overall.
“Starke Tank was so successful last year that our board decided it should be expanded to a countywide event,” Dan said. “This in turn has boosted our sponsor and contestant participation.”
A big part of what makes this event successful is the support of local natives. Former North Judson resident, Kirt Verhagen and his wife, Elizabeth, have helped make this event worth participating in for local business owners. The first year of the event, the Verhagens donated the prize money for the competition to help revitalize Kirt’s hometown, and that got the ball rolling for future, successful events.
There was a lot of community involvement and support for this event. From local door prizes being donated by several local businesses that were given away throughout the evening. There were also major sponsors that included Kankakee Valley REMC, NIPSCO, 1st Source Bank, Chester, Inc. and so many more that made this event’s success possible.
“The support from our sponsors has once again exceeded our expectations,” Dan said. “Thanks to their generosity we were able to award record prize amounts to our first and second-place winners and also give some nice gifts to our audience members.”
This year’s competition was also joined by sports royalty this weekend. Legendary sportscaster, Harold Welter, was the master of ceremonies. Welter has recently begun focusing full time on running Cheryl Lyn Welter Family Charitable Foundation, a charity he established in honor of his late daughter. Welter keeps his daughter’s memory alive through the nonprofit foundation in which he uses to provide grants to public and private schools throughout Indiana to help underprivileged children.
“Harold Welter is the embodiment of Starke County, and we are thrilled to have him as the voice of our event,” Dan said. “As he said many times during sports broadcasts, we’re hoping for an ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ night.”
The night was carried by smiles, laughter, and voices of the community joining for one central reason: the good of Starke County. Although all participants pitched excellent and very thorough plans, Irelynd Alexis Boutique stood out from the other participants and earned themselves first place. The evening ended with laughter and a brighter future for Starke County.
Irelynd Alexis Boutique is going to help increase Starke County's success by being able to offer more product inventory at the local boutique that shoppers have been craving.
To learn more about the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and what they have to offer the residents and businesses of Starke County, visit https://www.scedf.biz/